Friday, January 30, 2009

How Many Days For Organizational Bliss? Read On...

Some of you thought I was really on the ball. Or gave me a lot more credit than I deserved.

Some of you thought I was slow. Or you were just realistic.

I'll go with realistic.

What threw me was my original box packing in Virginia. At some point I just put things in boxes and said, "I'll decide whether or not I'm keeping this when I unpack in Michigan." That took some extra time. My decision-making skills have dwindled each year I've aged. I'm awfully fickle, even though I am really not a pack rat. Far from it.

I also had to fight with limited floor space. Not that the room is unreasonably small, just that you can only stack books so high before they start tipping. And when short Kayren legs can't fit over a stack and those books knock another stack down and that stack knocks down another stack, it takes longer.

Plus I'm a teensy bit anal. So if something didn't look just like I thought it would I might have just possibly moved things around. And something I've learned as I've aged...I can walk away for a few minutes to get a fresh perspective and it will still be there when I go back. Amazing concept!

And my in-laws were visiting. So I had to cook meals and clean up. And sleep. Oh, and take said in-laws to Niagara Falls on the foggiest day in 2008. You know, when it warmed up from 20 to 57 and there was no chance of snow so we wouldn't get stuck in Canada. But I digress.

Okay, three days. It took me the better part of three days.

There were only a couple of you who said what your vote was, so 'fess up.

And if you have no idea what I'm talking about, you can read about the chaos-turned-bliss-organizational-fix-of-a-lifetime here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Breakfast Of Champions

Or at least the one for those of us who can't figure out why we can't seem to shed any unwanted pounds.

One of my all-time favorite pies — Coconut Meringue. I got the perfect recipe from one of our dear friends in Illinois. It actually alters to make Chocolate Cream Pie, too.

Coconut Pie
from my friend Joanne

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T flour
2 1/2 T cornstarch (rounded, not level)
1 tall can evaporated milk
1 cup water
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 cup or more coconut
2 T butter
1 tsp vanilla

Combine sugar, salt, flour, and cornstarch together. Add milk and water. Bring to a boil and cook 3 minutes or until thick. Stir constantly. Remove from heat. Stir 1/2 of mixture into egg yolks and then combine entire mixture. Cook 1 minute more over low heat, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in coconut, butter and vanilla. Pour in a cooled, baked pie shell.

Use the same recipe for Chocolate Cream Pie, except increase the sugar to 1 cup and add 2 squares of chocolate with the milk and water at the beginning. And of course don't ever add coconut.

also from my friend Joanne

1 T cornstarch
2 T tap water
1/2 cup boiling water
3 egg whites
6 T sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Dissolve cornstarch in tap water. Add to boiling water in saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly until thickened (it doesn't usually take long at all). Remove from heat. Cool. I usually try to do this step first while the pie shell is baking so they are cooling while I make the pie. Then I can just finish up the meringue and pop it in the oven.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add sugar a little at a time. Beat until stiff peaks form. Fold or beat cornstarch mixture in. Spread and seal around the pie crust (this helps keep the pie from oozing out). Bake at 350 degrees until brown. It usually takes around 10 minutes.

Store what you have left in the refrigerator. You know, so you have breakfast the next morning. But hide it in the back so no one else finds it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Someone hasn't acclimated to the cold Michigan weather yet.

Good thing there's a window he can look out of at the same time.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tour The House: One Of My Favorite Rooms

I can hear the collective, "It's about time she posted some pictures of her house." I started with one of my favorite rooms, although it might typically qualify as two. We do not have a formal dining room but instead an attached eat-in area. That suits us fine as we are not formal dining room people.

I stood in the large opening that leads to the living room, again not a formal space, and took this picture looking into the combined area:

Some more detailed looks of some of those spaces:

You can't see my microwave from the living room. I put it there on purpose for that reason. I wanted it on my counter and not above my stove. I have so much counter space that it's really inconsequential.

Bobbi, I took the close-up of this cross stitch for you. I did this on my lunch breaks and in the evenings in the early 90's before kids.

From that original picture there is a glass door on the left that leads to the back yard. Here I am standing in the opening that would be to the right in the original picture and leads to a hallway (it leads left to the garage, laundry room, powder room, mud room, or walk-in closet, straight into the pantry closet or basement stairs, or right to the front of the house and another access to the living room).

That picture is one we purchased in Williamsburg a few days before we left Virginia. It matches a set of four seasonal pictures on the opposing walls by the same artist. This one represents the Grand Illumination at Colonial Williamsburg in December. Here it is up close:

Here are the four seasonal Williamsburg pictures on the opposing wall:

These pictures are some of my favorite things!

One of the few furniture splurges we made was this counter height table, six matching stools, and then four matching bar stools for the kitchen counter. It's hard to see in the picture, but it is two-tone, and the darker color matches the maple cabinets perfectly.

And since we've been squeezed into spaces for so long and are enjoying having room to move around and not shimmy places, we opted for no china cabinet or hutch, because that would have really made the space seem a lot smaller and it wouldn't have fit nicely. There is also no other place for one to really go and make sense, so I opted for these two little Ikea cabinets. They are sold as night tables, but they don't look like it here. I use them to keep what few linens I have (I told you I'm not a formal dining room person) and a few things like that. It was a perfect solution for me.

Last I'll show you the inside of a few cabinets to see how nice and orderly they are. Most of the sponged pottery was previously kept in the top of my old hutch, so I had to really plan my kitchen cabinets well. I rotate my Starbucks collection so no cups feel left out!

Here's my nice big drawer I use for my spices and measuring stuff. I really want to do something better, but for now it's working okay. They are actually semi-alphabetized. Sick, I know. It's just that I can't see the labels well and I have to guess.

Things I want to do eventually — get rid of the builder beige (that's going to become a recurring theme while I show you the rooms!), add some type of backsplash, hang the other light over the kitchen sink we have that matches the others, do some type of window treatment. But even with all that, this is one of my top two favorite rooms, or two of my top three favorite rooms...whatever!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Memory Monday — It Started With A Pig

From memory:

Matthew 7:1-5
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

Here is verse 6 that I will have to add on for next week. I just didn't get the whole thing memorized.
"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.

As I said two weeks ago, I picked this passage when I was piddling around in my Bible concordance and saw a verse listed under pig. My initial thought was that it was the primary verse associated with a Bible study I purchased a while back to do with my girls called "Beauty and the Pig; A Study of Godly Beauty," because while looking at the verse it did talk about throwing your pearls to the pigs.

Two things here...I never remember associating this particular verse with this particular passage about not judging others. Ever. And although this verse is listed, along with many other pig and swine verses, in the Bible study, it was not the primary verse. Just for the record, the primary verse was Proverbs 11:22. The NIV reads, "Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion." A little poetic, but even I get that.

So I also did some extra study these last two weeks on the Matthew passage and pigs, in the Biblical sense. There's not a lot to say about the pig, or swine, except that it is considered the picture of uncleanliness. Filthy might be a better word. Dogs in this passage were much the same since they were not domesticated as house pets and were usually scavenging, wild animals that would turn on you if you got between them and something they wanted.

This part of Jesus' sermon was focusing on the scribes and Pharisees and the human standards they had set. A little later on in the chapter it even goes on to warn about false prophets (v15). Jesus was not saying that we were not to oppose or correct wrong, as long as we are looking at it based on Biblical doctrine. Otherwise how would we be able to determine the dogs and the swine? John MacArthur said it much better than I could ever dream of saying it:

"There will be times when the gospel we present is absolutely rejected and ridiculed and we make the judgment to turn away and speak no more, deciding that we should "shake off the dust of [our] feet" (Matt. 10:14) and begin ministering somewhere else. There will be times when those to whom we witness will resist the gospel and blaspheme God, and we may speak words of judgment...When people not only reject the gospel, but insist on mocking and reviling it, we are not to waste God's holy Word and the precious pearls of His truth in a futile and frustrating attempt to win them. We are to leave them to the Lord, trusting that somehow His Spirit can pentrate their hearts..."

I will finish memorizing this Matthew passage for next week. I have high hopes to memorize a few other verses also. If I do, I'll share them and their meaning, and if not, they'll be for the next week.

Joanne hosts Memory Monday over at her place, The Simple Wife. Go check it out.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Accident Update

It's been quite an emotional week. Sparky and I are still sore — her mostly in the back and me mostly in the top of my right shoulder. The muscle is in a very tight spasm and I think it's originating from the neck. This has made it difficult to sit down at the computer to type, but I'm just going to try and work my way through it at this point. Our chests are still sore. I mentioned that mine was goopy. Well, Hubby must have brought home a cold from the airplane on the way back from DC the previous Friday, because that's what was developing. So we've been hacking at our house all week, which is hard with the bruised feeling Sparky and I have from our seat belts. My left knee is also bruised down deep but I didn't realize it before. Probably from sliding forward in the seat and bumping against the dash. My right one wouldn't have hit since my foot was slamming on the brakes and my leg was fairly straight.

All those things said, we are so fortunate to be in one piece. The air bag kept me from whipping hard and from hitting anything. Since Sparky was behind me she took it a little harder. We're going to the chiropractor to work out our kinks. Our vehicle was officially totaled.

Tomorrow I will be doing Memory Monday and then I'm going to get back in the swing of things with some regular posting. This move has had me on my behind far too long and I can't seem to get any posting done, unless I want to stay up until 2 a.m., which I am not currently willing to do. I'm ready for things to seem normal again.

Monday, January 19, 2009

God Was There...

No other explanation possible.

I was the driver. Sparky was sitting in the seat behind me. We were on the way to the orthodontist.

It happened just before noon today. My chest hurts quite a bit, probably from the seat belt and possibly the air bag. We'll see how my back and neck are tomorrow.

Sparky's chest also hurts, as well as her shoulders, neck and back. She of course didn't have the benefit of an air bag, only the seat belt.

Although people from another vehicle had to be transported also, I understand that everyone was okay. That could have various interpretations, but everyone was alive.

It's pushed about three feet back, but nothing touched my legs, and it's not because they are short. The inside compartment was not compromised. What other explanation is there? When Hubby saw it, I think he was stunned at the damage because he'd seen us first.

Although many verses are on my mind today, no Memory Monday until next week. See you in a day or so.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Happy Birthday, Caboose! (Belated — Again!)

Caboose had his 9th birthday on Tuesday the 13th, exactly two weeks after my birthday. He was one of those new millenium babies. It is certainly always easy to calculate how old he is!

If you've missed any of my old posts about Caboose, I could summarize by saying "epitome of the youngest child" or I could just direct you here, here, here, here, here, or here, for some fun reading. He's always been like this, even before he learned to talk. We knew within minutes of his birth. Okay, maybe it took a few hours.

Caboose was due January 26th and he was a scheduled C-section for January 17th since I'd had one previously with his brother (an 8 lb. 13 oz., large-headed brother). We were able to go up to 10 days earlier than his due date, but since that would be a Sunday, we went with nine days early, which happened to be a Monday, and coincidentally Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Now I had two brand new six year olds at home and a fairly new three year old, so I didn't get to sit much. I was pretty miserable most of the time and had lots of back pain. So the week before I was scheduled to deliver I ended up going in to the doctor a couple of times. I was dilated a cm or two, but it never really seemed to change, but when I went in on Thursday the 13th the doctor told me to go ahead and go to the hospital and they'd deliver. Here is the picture Hubby took of me and the kids right before we left for the hospital. Buddy isn't very happy because we got him up from his nap, but I wasn't willing to leave without telling him.

You can see now why I'd been asked for three months prior if I was about ready to deliver. I was one big girl! Remember I'm a whopping 5'1" (back then I was 5"1 1/4" but I lost my 1/4" in aging) so there wasn't a whole lot of place for it to go.

When I got to the hospital the nurse strapped on the monitor and asked me about my contractions. I told her I had no idea how far apart they were. She said they'd send me home if they weren't at least five minutes apart. I was rather appalled and told her that the doctor was going to deliver and it didn't matter. I was praying I was right and wouldn't have to eat crow.

After a few minutes the monitor started measuring contractions and they were two to three minutes apart and hurting a lot. My nurse friend that was with me checked out the paper and they were at the top so she told me to start breathing through them. You know, I never had breathing practice! I didn't get to with the girls because I was on bed rest so early, then I just never did it with Buddy, and here I needed it. Stink! At least I knew why I'd been hurting so bad and was miserable at home, but since I never really stopped moving I never really felt them.

Here is one of the very first pictures of Caboose. He found his hands quickly. I'll show you later how much, and how come he never would take a pacifier.

He was only 7 lbs. 4 oz. and his head was not nearly as large as his brothers was. But God works in mysterious ways — we had a neighbor that also had twins and was a neonatal nurse who was a very good friend. She was scheduled to work my original C-section. Even though they normally only let you have one person in the room with you during the delivery, they let her come in as well as Hubby as long as she promised not to work the delivery and just watch. Well, she told me that the cord was the first thing that came out of my incision and that I would have had a prolapsed cord had I not had the C-section, and thus would have ended up in an emergency situation most likely.

Before we left New Jersey we popped up to Ellis Island, Liberty Island, and here's a picture across to Manhattan just a year before the World Trade Center tragedy:

Caboose's middle name is after my grandfather (passed away in 2004) pictured here in the summer of 2000:

And some more pictures of the little imp:

The first time Caboose stood up in his crib I was so excited I ran to get the camera to snap a picture. He didn't like that. It didn't matter that I had other children go talk to him for the 15 seconds it took for me to run and grab the camera, because once I walked in the room, I was not allowed to walk out. Great big no-no. Here was the result of the picture, and yes, it is in his scrapbook just like this because it is the first time. It's his own fault he looks like that. He's just lucky his face only froze in the picture and not permanently.

I've mentioned that Santa is part of my family. When the girls were little they called him Ampa Piskers, because he's their grandpa and he has whiskers. By default my mom was Amma Piskers. Now they are Grandpa and Grandma Whiskers. Still to this day. No, my mom doesn't have whiskers. Yes, we've raised eyebrows in public and given explanations. And we had one child who didn't like whiskers. Guess which one...

It took over a year for Caboose to really be in the same room as Grandpa Whiskers. He couldn't get close to him until he was really over three. Here is a series of pictures, along with his beloved bed bear, from Christmas when he wasn't quite a year old and we decided to test the waters:

Notice his loving brother in the floor in the third picture oblivious to it all. He was playing with dinosaurs and could care less.

On top of it all, Caboose was a p.i.c.k.y. eater. One of his food groups was Zesta crackers:

He had about five food groups that made up their own pyramid. Chocolate was one. Scrambled eggs, a plain pancake, and plain Cheerios were on there too. He was a tricky one. We weren't sure if he'd actually have any of his birthday cake on his first birthday because we figured it was all a textural thing with him. He ended up eating some, although Thomas the Tank Engine blue icing isn't really great for one year olds.

Remember those fingers from the night of his birth? Well, he fiddled with them, his thumb, and then flipped the fingers around and ended up with this...for years.

And that arm of that bear were always right there held tight.

Happy Birthday, Caboose! We love you and would love to give you kisses all over your head, but since you think they are yucky we'll just settle for telling you and letting you groan someday when you read it!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Memory Monday — Psalm 1:1-6

It feels like forever since I participated in Memory Monday. The last time I had learned the first half of Psalm 1:1-6 and planned to have it done by the next week. Well, Christmas, company, and my plans went awry. I had even wanted to do the Christmas story from Luke before Christmas. Considering it's January, that obviously didn't happen. At least I can prior plan that one for next year!

From memory:

Psalm 1:1-6
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

I picked this because I'm not normally a Psalm girl, but when I was polishing up Psalm 4:4 I glanced over and saw this and thought it was good. I'm too left brain to like poetry — I just don't get it. I have to read the kid version of Shakespeare that's been written in story form just to get it very well. When I read Job this last time, I read it in The Message which made it much more understandable for me. So the Psalms kind of fall into this category and if I'm reading through the book I will pick up The Message also. Strange I would pick an entire passage for memorization from there.

I also found a helpful way to solidfy the verses. Instead of just memorizing like I normally would, looking at it and saying it while looking away, I studied it and then practiced writing it down on paper over and over again, adding more and more, or doing it by sections and then putting it all together. That really helped me, especially with remembering where the punctuation went.

For next time I think I'm going to start working on Matthew 7:1-6. I'd like to use it with my kids, and my girls have a kit that I think is based on verse six. When I was looking in my concordance I saw "pigs" and then had to take a look. I honestly didn't remember that the pig verse was part of that particular passage, so I decided to tackle the whole thing. I'd like to try and do some additional study on it as well.

Go visit Joanne at The Simple Wife if you'd like to participate.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Caboose's Latest Antics

Well, it's been a while since I've shared some of Caboose's silliness and sayings. I figured it was time since I had a couple of good ones. Maybe the laughs will do you good when you read them.

During the first Sunday School hour Caboose has what is the equivalent of junior church. The teachers rotate out by month. One of January's teachers has a brother that's been very ill with cancer, so she would share that during the prayer time with the kids. Every time she has been a teacher we always get the update from Caboose about her brother and how he is going to die soon.

After church on Sunday Caboose told us that his teacher's brother would be dying that day or Monday, and that she couldn't call him since he didn't know who she was anymore. I asked what I thought was the obvious question, "Is he in a coma?" Caboose's answer: "No, he's in Alaska."

I've said before that Caboose plans to live with us forever. Not only that, so does Buddy. We think. He might be waffling, although he still doesn't plan to marry. Caboose also wants Sparky to live with us forever. He's a little concerned about her being a missionary and leaving home. Chatty is the only one that currently wants to get married someday.

Well, Caboose's little wheels have been turning. Let me just preface the rest of the story by telling you that he's a little worried about all the rest of us dying and him being left alone. One night on the way to church he was talking about not wanting to go into a nursing home when he was old, so Sparky said that since Chatty will be getting married and having children there will be someone to take care of him. Chatty is the sister that he relentlessly torments, but he thought this was a pretty terrific idea.

Then he decided that if none of them got married and had children that he would just adopt one so that there would be someone to take care of him. Sparky told him that it didn't usually work that way and that it was difficult for single people to adopt children. So he went back to Plan A, and still hasn't caught on that he might want to be a lot nicer to his sister Chatty if that's his plan.

Then on the way to church this last week the discussion came up again, and Sparky told Caboose that if Chatty didn't get married and have children that maybe Buddy could get married and have children. Then there would be someone to take care of him someday. Problem solved.

Caboose said this wouldn't work. Why, you ask? Well, because since Caboose plans on Buddy living with us forever, Buddy's wife would have to live with us forever, and then, "There would be another girl in the house."

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